How2Conquer Author Interview: Leslie Smith Grant
Leslie Smith Grant’s new book, Rule a Healthy Roost, is dedicated to making kid’s nutrition and exercise as easy and fun as possible.
Do you ever wish your kids would take ownership of their own eating habits? Or do some exercise while they watch TV?
Even before coronavirus turned many of us into the madly juggling, work-from-home-ing, digital-school-managing versions of ourselves, nutrition and physical activity have been concerns for a lot of parents. Frustrated with the daily struggle of what to feed her kids, Leslie Smith Grant wanted a simple, fun way for her kids to make wise decisions about what they were eating, as well as something to help her figure out what to make for dinner each night. So she started a business.
From 2007–2012, Leslie was the “Mother Hen” of Chickin Feed, LLC, a small business she created to help her family focus on raising healthy kids (chickins) from scratch. After being featured in “Incredible People” on the Rachael Ray Show, Leslie and her “chicken coop” of talented friends released the original edition of Rule a Healthy Roost in 2008, under the name The Chickin Feed Primer. Chickin Feed, LLC also produced a series of books and a collection of children’s tunes based upon a quirky set of Farm Grub characters.
We are so excited Leslie chose us to release this fantastic book out into the world again! With humor and a good scoop of mom-sense, Leslie walks you through nutrition and kitchen safety, shares recipes for parent-approved kid cuisine, offers ways to “shake a leg” together with old-school P.E. lessons and activities, and more.
Having fun with your kids is great exercise, but getting them to eat fruit and vegetables doesn’t have to be a game of chicken.
Get to Know Leslie Smith Grant
Why is home cooking so important? How do you choose a restaurant if you do want to dine out with your kids?
Well, the only way to REALLY know what you are eating is to prepare it yourself. Understanding what a body actually needs — simple, whole foods — and being able to prepare them at home is an essential skill that encourages little chickins’ healthy development. You don’t need to prepare all of your food at home — that’s a bit impractical in this day and age — but it’s great to make sure your family is able to shop and prepare a couple of basic healthy options. It also saves a lot of money!
Dining out with kids can be a great stress reliever or inducer! Making sure to review the kids menu at restaurants before you go is a great place to start, plus you will know your kids’ preferences. Try to select a child-friendly restaurant that offers something for kids besides chicken nuggets and french fries. At the end of the day, you are going to want your experience to be somewhat pleasant, and making sure kids have healthy options that don’t cause a meltdown is key. Also, ask servers not to auto-refill drinks other than water!
What food did you once detest, but grow to enjoy?
Beets! They always tasted like dirt to me, but later in life, and especially when I started to roast them, they became one of my favorites! And the color is brilliant!
Of the activities included in the book, what was your kids’ favorite?
The Couch Press, probably because it can be done while watching something on TV or a computer :)
How much screen time do you recommend? Is educational television okay in limited amounts?
It would be great if, in this day and age, I could say ZERO and not laugh! But there are ways to balance screen time with outdoor/indoor physical activity and reading. With virtual learning so common due to the global pandemic, it’s difficult to limit time on screens, so just keep your kiddos moving outside and indoors as much as you can. Try to find some time to play games — board games or activities that get us moving are always better than screens!
When you do allow screen time, there are a lot of great educational TV shows or online videos to choose from. Sesame Street is one of the greatest gifts from my childhood, and I’d highly recommend the TED-Ed YouTube channel!
Where did the name “Chickin Feed” originate?
When my kids were small, “little chickin” was a term of endearment. I remember having conversations with other moms when trying to figure out what to feed them. Asking “What are you going to feed your chikins for dinner?” seemed to be a constant refrain. When I was struggling with the nutrition-for-normal-people idea, it seemed like a natural fit for the Tracking Boards I initially designed. I had created a really simplified chick for something else, and when I was playing around with the concept for the book, the simple design, and the need to feed my “chickins,” Chickin Feed just stuck!
What is your favorite children’s book?
Anything by Dr. Suess, but particularly One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. And The Little Red Hen — she’s such a control freak!
What do you hope parents take away from reading Rule a Healthy Roost?
I hope the book makes it easier to figure out some go-to basics that can help guide healthier habits. We tried to put just enough of the simple, important things into one book. Parenting is REALLY challenging, and having a “home-base” to return to when everything is getting more and more chaotic and “screen-only” is a good way to Rule your Healthy Roost!
More About Leslie
Leslie Smith Grant was involved in the startup and served on the boards of both the Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School and the Grant Park Cooperative Preschool, and she has volunteered with numerous Farm to School programs through work with Georgia Organics, Atlanta Farm to School, the Grant Park Farmers Market, and other organizations. She currently serves on the Atlanta Board of Education and works a part-time gig in the Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture at Emory University.
Rule a Healthy Roost is available from Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, IndieBound, Amazon, Bookshop.org, and local bookstores.